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Alabama tops penultimate College Football Playoff rankings

The fifth edition of the 2018 College Football Playoff Top 25 rankings was released Tuesday on ESPN, and Alabama was ranked No. 1 in the now-weekly poll for a fifth consecutive week. 

The Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0 SEC) topped the rankings, followed by No. 2 Clemson, No. 3 Notre Dame and — with Michigan losing to Ohio State this past weekend — No. 4 Georgia. Alabama and Georgia will play in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, Dec. 1, in Atlanta. 

Oklahoma and Ohio State round out the top six. Eight SEC teams are ranked in the top 25, which is a CFP record, and Alabama has wins over four of them. The Tide could make it five this weekend.

Alabama is the only team in the nation that has appeared in all four College Football Playoffs and has won two of the last three championships. Ohio State and Clemson went on to win in 2014 and 2016 after defeating the Crimson Tide in the semifinals and title game, respectively. 

No. 1 is familiar territory for Alabama, but it isn’t something that interests Nick Saban

“No, I actually didn’t, to be honest with you,” Saban said when asked if he watched the inaugural rankings four weeks ago. “It’s obviously certainly an honor for our team to be put in that position, but it’s not what you’ve done to this point, it’s how you finish that determines where you get to and how you get there. We’ve got some of our toughest games coming up, starting (with LSU). 

“It’ll be really important to our team as to how we finish this season and kind of go from there. It’s kind of a little bit of a new season after this bye week in terms of how we improve and how we play and how we respond to some of these challenges.” 

With being ranked No. 1, though, does Alabama feel like it has a target on its back? 

“I think it’s no secret around here,” Crimson Tide redshirt senior center Ross Pierschbacher said. “We’ve had a lot of success in the past, but that doesn’t guarantee success in the future. We know we have, as a team this month, just the games that we’ve got will be the biggest challenges for this team so far, so I don’t think we really take too much stock into that. 

“I think we just kind of put our heads down and go to work, regardless of what ESPN says or the rankings and all that stuff. We know what we have to accomplish and all the work that we have left to be where we want to be at the end of the season.” 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF TOP 25, WEEK 14 

1. Alabama

2. Clemson

3. Notre Dame

4. Georgia

— 

5. Oklahoma

6. Ohio State

7. Michigan

8. UCF

9. Florida

10. LSU

11. Washington

12. Penn State

13. Washington State

14. Texas

15. Kentucky

16. West Virginia

17. Utah

18. Mississippi State

19. Texas A&M

20. Syracuse

21. Northwestern

22. Boise State

23. Iowa State

24. Missouri

25. Fresno State

Contact Charlie Potter by 247Sports’ personal messaging or on Twitter (@Charlie_Potter).

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